Judging Statement and Award Comments
Alain Picard: PSA, IAPS-MC

Judging the Dakota Pastels 4th Quarter entries has been a very difficult task. The sheer volume of high caliber work in both the Emerging and Established categories was overwhelming. Kudos to all who entered, and please know that for every painting that I selected, there were dozens more beautiful works that had to be passed by this time. Yet they are outstanding works of art none the less.

When selecting the short list of awards from a vast number of entries, I look for artworks that reveal an artist with a truly unique point of view along with a strong grasp of the fundamentals. Paintings that tell a story which is both expressive and personal, and that take advantage of the wonderful qualities of soft pastel have been celebrated in my top awards for each category.

Congratulations to all whose work received an award. There were over 900 entries, presenting a real challenge for yours truly! For those of you who did not receive an award this time, let these winning images inspire you to keep painting and enter again sometime down the road!

Alain Picard: PSA, IAPS-MC
Dakota 4th Quarter 2021 Competition Judge



Anna Lapygina
Dawn Emerson
Blue Skies
Tara Will
Up on the Hill
Susan Ellis
Morning on the Plashy Bank
Honorable Mention
Julia Dubinina
Under the Sun
Honorable Mention
Terri Ford
Morning Vista
Honorable Mention
Sarah Blumenschein
Daisies, Mums, and Glass Jars
Honorable Mention
Barbara Berry
21st Year
Honorable Mention
Jeanne Rosier Smith
Water Melodies
Honorable Mention
Aaron Schuerr
Winter Waters
Honorable Mention
Elizabeth Kenyon
Random Rhythm
Honorable Mention
Pamela Hamilton
Sound of Clouds

1st PLACE: 'Friends'
1st place in the Established artist category has been given to this portrait entitled Friends. This painting has been executed in a narrower range of values that that soften the image and portray a dream-like quality. I love the point of view that we are given, allowing the viewer to take in the beauty and imagination of childhood, and a most unlikely band of huggable friends. The face, hands and feet are painted with such skill and refinement, and the peripheral characters lend imaginative delight to the viewing experience. It’s a well-balanced design that uses asymmetry and patterning so effectively. Utterly enchanting. Bravo.

2nd Place: 'Blue Skies'
Blue Skies has taken 2nd Place with an extraordinary blend of personal vision and skillful execution. The textural layering of elements that combines dynamic abstraction with observed realism is exciting to behold. The hawk perched atop the branch is wrapped in a foil of color and artistry not easily gained by the hands of this skillful artist, what a wonderful and visceral sight.

3rd Place: 'Up On The Hill'
Up on the Hill has been awarded 3rd place for revealing a unique and expressive description of the landscape that is bold, lyrical, delightful and believable. The artist uses a visual shorthand to transcribe the observable world into a language of color, line and shape that is mesmerizing. The play between representation and abstraction is explored like a dance, taking us in and out of our conscious awareness of the representational landscape, and encouraging us to revel in the pure enjoyment of mark-making, color, gesture and line. It’s a joyful celebration.

4th Place: 'Morning On The Plashy Bank'
Morning on the Plashy Bank has been awarded 4th place in the Established Artist Category. This painting tells the story of a clam digger who is setting out to harvest clams. Like any great opening scene, it sets our character before us as the hero, with striking design and bold values. Yet the subtle beauty of the color palette leads us in with tenderness and compassion. The contour of the figure is expertly rendered with a perfect balance of positive and negative shapes. Edges are managed beautifully throughout the scene. This painting shows us how a simple subject can be portrayed with great power and empathy.





Nilisha Phad
Jill MacDonald
Sunflower Concentration
Sandra O'Brien
I See You
Carol Holland
Quiet Corner
Honorable Mention
Joan Dreicer
"Mourning" Light
Honorable Mention
Jan Carlton
Kindred Spirits
Honorable Mention
Zuzana Drobnik
Windswept Limber Pine
Honorable Mention
Rosie Coleman
First Time
Honorable Mention
Darcie Roberts
Honorable Mention
Carina Imbrogno
Cinnamon the Sleeping Tiger
Honorable Mention
Jill Glassman
Pigeon’s View
Honorable Mention
Judy Stone
Calming Sea



1st PLACE: 'Subsistence'
Subsistence was awarded first place because of the sheer mastery involved in executing this complex yet successful design with tremendous artistry. All the little elements come together to tell a touching story that reads as a unified, authentic, and expressive work of art. The artist’s sense of craft is expertly deployed to capture the emotion of the figure and place us within the scene.

2nd PLACE: 'Sunflower Concentration'
Sunflower Concentration was awarded 2nd place for its skillful mark-making, emotional use of color and expressive design that yields a powerful visual impact. The close-cropped view of the subject provides a fascinating visual experience as we see bits of turquoise peeking through the sunflowers to contrast cool color against the warmth of the flowers. Ultimately, the mark making is just so rewarding that it provides wonderful energy and expression to the work.

3rd PLACE: 'I See You'
Third Place in the Emerging Artist Category goes to “I See You.” This portrait carries such raw emotion and beauty in its vibrant and lyrical marks. The use of color in the skin has a way of conveying a loving connection to the subject that reads like a beautiful visual shorthand with efficient and economic use of marks. What a joy to observe.

4th PLACE: 'Quiet Corner'
Quiet Corner takes 4th place as a poised example of strong design. There is a subtlety to the arrangement of shapes and treatment of edges that is rewarding to observe. While the palette remains muted, the precise placement of the red door in the composition works to complement the green awnings while anchoring the story. I love the airy shadows accomplished by the artist, revealing sensitive and skillful observation. A simple subject has been elevated to a piece of great art.